ORO VALLEY SENIOR      SOTBALL HISTORY




The origins of the current OV teams go back to about 1983-4 when John Dineen started a softball program for seniors.  About 6-12 interested players began to show up for practice and exercise on Mondays at a field next to AMPHI offices on Wetmore Rd near Oracle Rd.  The group gradually grew into a team that John managed. 


In the late 80’s more teams were founcdc.  Over time there were 10-12 teams throughout metro Tucson.  Because John was building up teams to offer recreation to retirees, he was obliged to ensure that anyone who came to play got to play.  That philosophy held throughout his tenure.  His teams were open to any one over 50 years of age.  But with growth came differences of opinion, with  some wanting to form leagues by age categories, others by capability and others to limit travel and play more locally.  The build-up of teams began to splinter into new groupings and leagues.

 

John moved to Oro Valley in 1999 and brought the team with him.  Practice and games began at what is now Kreigh Park.  In 2003 OV players participated in two divisions playing on Fridays at Golf Links Park in Tucson: a 50 and over, and a 60 and over.  At about this time, Norm Dentempo was the pitcher, coach and character with a lot of humorous statements and actions.  For a period during 2005-06,

Frank Clemente managed the OV team tourneys. Around this time games were played at both Murietta Park and Kreigh fields.

 

In 2006, the managerial responsibilities were taken by Don Harris, who like John, took on all aspects of running the team, from scheduling games as league commissioner, to making out line-ups, to keeping score, to managing the team on the field.  Denny McCabe helped out on all equipment-related chores.  Don maintained the “if you come, you play” philosophy.  The leagues were pretty much 50 and over, but a transition began toward age bracket leagues.  Teams splintered off from the core OV team into other leagues.  OV Parks and Rec diminished their interest in the program and recruiting slowed considerably.  John Dineen kept score for awhile, but gradually withdrew.  He still attends OV team social functions, and loves to talk about the great times he had playing, experiences on the field, and of course stories about the diverse characters who participated in senior softball.

 

Around 2007-08, a second team was formed that consisted of younger players, called the Vistoso Boomers.  Initially managed by Frank Clemente, and later by Steve Arnold, they played against the OV team managed by Don Harris in the 65’s league.  The Boomers eventually broke up with some of the players moving to the OV team and others playing on younger teams.  Around 2008 OV had enough players to

form two teams of roughly equal ability. Teams were managed by Don Harris and Jim Bermel.   Age restrictions were flexible, and Don Harris become famous for grandfathering younger players into the 65s league.  In August 2009 Don Harris suffered a heart attack on the field and died shortly thereafter in the hospital.  It was a shock even though he often pushed himself beyond his physical abilities in his love for playing ball.  Don built a relationship with Mark Rusin, owner of the now deceased Loop Restaurant in Oro Valley.  The Loop make donations to defray team expenses, and then dedicated their patio area to Don Harris.  In addition, OV Parks and Rec named the two fields we played on at Kreigh Park after Don Harris.

 

Because Don Harris did it all, there was a need for 5 to 6 positions of responsibility to be performed.  Most of this responsibility was picked up by Ron Locher, Don Cox and Dave Kilbury.  These responsibilities are now handed down to new people every couple of years in an orderly fashion.  In 2009/2010, Don Cox became the first manager after Don Harris.  A 70s team was formed to compete with a similar team in Tucson.  Many of the 70s players wanted to also play with the 65s, which resulted in line-ups of 18-21 players.  Don carefully managed this by changing the thinking from “if you show up, you play” to “if you already played this week, don’t expect to play in both games of our double-headers for the 65s”.  The 65s team began informal practices and together with shorter line-ups began to improve in the league standings.

  

Ron Locher as GM of the whole OV family, managed many of the personnel issues during this post-Don Harris period and deserves a lot of credit for the transition to the policies of new managers, while keeping the OV senior softball family united. The 2010/2011 season, saw Bob Lenihan take over as manager of the 65s and Jay Stephens became manager of the 70s.  Ron Locher remained GM.   Bob initiated regular, mandatory and intensive practices each week.  Bob worked hard to give everyone on the 65s playing time while limiting the line-up in order to remain competitive.  This arrangement carried into the 2011/2012 season and resulted in not only winning seasons, but first place finishes in 2010/2011 & 2011/2012.  Records for these two seasons were record breaking at 31-7 and 33-7.  Bob energized the team to improve by soliciting feedback, ideas, and evaluation.  “I would just like to say that the dedication and commitment of the players to improve individually, and as a team, over the past two seasons, has made a huge difference in the outcome.” (Bob Lenihan).

 

The 70s team played twice a week, having as much fun and camaraderie as ever.  The success or challenges of both teams was regularly reported via email by Ron for the total OV senior softball family.  Occasional social events and pick-up games kept the family together. 

The whole team saluted the unexpected passing of Ray Roach at 82, a long time OV player, by labeling 3rd base as “Ray’s Corner”.  He

was still playing with the 70s a couple of weeks before his death.  Ray was a snowbird who resided with his wife on the east side of Tucson.  He became part of the OV team because of his neighbor who was John Dineen’s brother.

 

At the end of the successful 2011-2012 season, the 65s decided to compete in the team’s first tournament in Casa Grande.  After losing

three of the first four games, they did better when it counted most by eliminating one team and coming close to advancing to the championship game. 


The 2012-13 season began with Don Cox as GM, Dave Arffa as field manager of the 65s with Dave Kilbury as assistant manager, and Jay Stephens as field manager of the 70s.  The 70’s once again played two games per week through the end of March.  The 65s season ended with a tournament and picnic by the end of March.  OV was in the running all season but fell just short of the lead, coming in tied for second place.  They were also runners up in the tournament.  Two players died during this season, Dick Olsen and John Guerin.  John was one of the original OV players from the mid to late 1990s.  2012-2013 also saw the sponsorship of Putney’s Sports Grille, where team gatherings moved to after the Loop closed.


In September 2013, Oro Valley competed in the Payson Senior Tournament, arranged by Jeff Chicusa and managed by Dave Arffa.  The team  finished 3rd out of 6 teams, an accomplishment without much practice, several new players playing with us for the first time including Rob Lowry and Don Braun, borrowed players from Pinetop as well as injuries galore! 

 

The 2013-2014 season was once again led by Don Cox as GM, Dave Arffa as field manager of the 65's with Dave Kilbury and Jeff Lesser as assistant managers.  Jay Stephens managed the 70's.  The Putney's/Oro Valley 65 team finished the league season in 3rd place with a .500 record.  However, for the first time OV wom  the end of the season league tournament!  In the championship game, Oro Valley  beat Orange, the season's first place team.  Dave Arffa thanks the OV team for their extraordinary effort, practice and dedication in this accomplishment. 


As Dave turns the team over to Jeff Lesser to manage the 2014-2015 season, he thanks everyone on the roster for the privilege and honor of managing the team for the past two years.  Dave said were very fortunate not to lose (as in pass away or have serious injury) any players this season.  We needed 25 players on the roster this year to field a team starting in September.  Once everyone was here, we played with an active roster of 18.  Thanks to all for playing their role throughout the season!


Jeff Lesser managed and Don Cox was the general manager for the 2014-2015 season to similar record season and participation in the end of year tournament. The 2015-2016 season under manager Ron Locher,  with Don Cox as general manager ended with our second end of season tournament win! New key additions to the team helping to achieve this success were Leonard Gann and Jack Talkington.


The 2016-2017 season had Ron Locher as manager, Dave Arffa as assistant manager, Don Cox as general manager and Terry McNellis as CFO. The team for the first time did not have enough players available to start the season on time, finally starting the first week of November. Key new additions were Stu Kraft and Chuck Kill. We finished with a .500 record. The end of season tournament was single elimination for the first time and Oro Valley had the second highest runs scored in the tournament, but lost to the eventual winner, the Chicano Cubs.


The 2017-2018 season will begin in October. This year the team will be led by Terry McNellis as manager, Don Cox as Gerneral Manager, and Dave Arffa as Assistant Manager. The teams began voluntary practices early this year on August 23rd, as returning local players were anxious to get started. The 65+ team is still seeking new recruits, especially ones in their 60's, as the average age of the team is now over 70. Interested players are urged to contact us and start practicing with us!